My 89-year-old father, who lives in mandate-free Arizona, recently explained he chooses to wear a mask when he goes to the store, “not for others, for me.” His comment epitomizes two opposing government approaches to the lingering COVID-19 pandemic: require all to comply with mandates for the good of the collective or allow individuals to decide how to protect themselves.
Two Democrat-run states have recently gone in opposite directions. California implemented a new, statewide mask mandate, while the Colorado governor announced that the COVID-19 mandates are over.
California’s mandate comes from Dr. Tomás Aragón, the director of the California Department of Public Health. This is an unelected position given power to issue such edicts due to the state of emergency declared by Governor Gavin Newsom nearly two years ago. California has been in an ongoing state of emergency since, despite vaccines available to all and dramatic drops in infection rates.
Before becoming director earlier this year, Dr. Aragón was the health officer for the City and County of San Francisco. He was also involved in public health research at University of California, Berkeley and an adjunct professor. He has degrees from Berkeley and Harvard.
According to his biography, he became the state director earlier this year with a mission of “striving to embody and promote the universal values of dignity, equity, compassion and humility, he works through collaborative partnerships to mobilize communities and institutions to transform policies and systems towards a culture of equity, antiracism, healing and health for all people and our planet.” (Yes, he worked “equity” twice into the same sentence!)
The new edict begins by noting that the “vaccines remain effective in preventing serious disease, hospitalization, and death from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” Nonetheless, it goes on to state the Department “is requiring masks to be worn in all indoor public settings, irrespective of vaccine status, for the next four weeks (December 15, 2021, through January 15, 2022).”
The Order states the mandate is necessary because, “Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 47% and hospitalizations have increased by 14%.”
But it ignores the fact that mask mandates have already long been in place in many counties in the state. The order expands the rule to all counties. Yet, it provides zero analysis of or report on the spread of COVID-19 in counties with the mandate versus those without it! Should this not be the most basic due diligence to conduct before issuing an order infringing on individual liberty and which overrides decisions of local governments and impacts people from Bakersfield to Barstow and Modesto to Tahoe?
Compare this to Colorado—same virus, same human species—where Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, just announced: “The emergency is over. … Frankly, people who want to be protected [have gotten vaccinated]. Those who get sick, it’s almost entirely their own darn fault.”
No new mask mandate in response to another new variant. Rather, Polis said, “Our top goal is always to follow the science, and there was a time when there was no vaccine, and masks were all we had, and we needed to wear them. The truth is we now have highly effective vaccines that work far better than masks… You don’t tell people to wear a jacket when they go out in winter and force them to [wear it]. If they get frostbite, it’s their own darn fault.”
Finally, a Democrat leader applying common sense and personal responsibility! Americans should be free to take whatever measure they wish to stay healthy. Control their immunity through nutrition, exercise, and taking vitamins, or not. Go out to restaurants or eat at home. Go to the movies or watch Netflix. Wear a mask, or two masks, or not. Get vaccinated or not. Get boosted or not.
When I was a kid my favorite thing to say to someone who told me not to do something was, “Why not? It’s a free country!” You do not hear that much today. But at least for now in Colorado, it still applies. But in California, Americans’ freedom depends upon the whims of a woke Berkeley professor.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.